Monday, 20 January 2020
Let me explain.
I lived in London at the time; in a fairly well to do area. The Local Authorities in that place had decided that no one should have bonfires in their gardens in order to protect the environment and save the planet. They did not explain who they were saving the planet from? Are Martians or outer space aliens attracted by garden bonfires like moths are attracted by light per chance? Or are we to be invaded by extra-terrestrial moths?
The Local Authorities wanted people to gather all the twigs and branches from cutting and pruning their trees, and put them in plastic bags and take them to the re-cycling centre some five miles away. They obviously omitted to think that all these plastic bags and the driving 10 miles there and back was more harmful to the environment than burning the twigs.
Anyway, this ruling did not bother me much since I had a small garden with no trees. Any dead leaves from the few bushes were gathered up and thrown over the fence for the neighbours to deal with.
I was young at the time with many friends and we gathered at weekends in summer and have barbecues and garden parties.
Now barbecues make smoke, and smoke is banned apparently. Any smoke. So a neighbour complained to the Authorities and I got a letter advising me to stop burning garden refuse since it is against the local laws and by-laws as outlined in Section 73, Paragraph 24, sub-paragraph G2, of the Local Authorities Rules, Laws and By-Laws Manual, which can be consulted in any library or by calling at the Local Authorities Offices between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:30 pm Mondays to Fridays.
I wrote back explaining that I had no intention of checking the by-laws afore-mentioned since I am sure they are as stated in the letter signed by someone who obviously cannot write since his signature looks more like a drunken chicken scratching the paper rather than a proper name of someone with a modicum of intelligence that allowed him to express themselves in joined-up writing. However, be that as it may, I explained that I was not burning garden refuse but burning various meats which is a ritual performed by religious people dating back to the Old Testament which can be consulted in any church or good bookshop.
They wrote back threatening to take me to Court. So from then on, whenever I had a party, I erected a large canvass tent in my garden and put the barbecue therein. The nosey neighbours with nothing better to do could not phone the Authorities since they could not actually see me burning anything or causing smoke to pollute Britain and the world.
On another occasion, still in the same London house, we had the mother-in-law visiting for a few days which lasted some five weeks. She had the habit of washing her under garments and hang them on a line outside her window to dry. Unfortunately my mother-in-law was somewhat rotund and her underpants were so enormous that they covered up the sun.
We received a letter from the Local Authorities pointing out our offence under Paragraph blah blah blah of their By-Laws manual.
I replied that this was not underwear drying on a washing line but it was in fact the flag of my country.
They wrote back asking what country.
I wrote back it's "Pantsland"!
They wrote saying there is no such country.
I wrote back saying there is and I gave them my address as the location of such country.
They wrote back saying it is not a recognised country.
I wrote back saying it will be when it is recognised by the United Nations to which I have just applied for recognition.
They wrote back saying if my address is a country what is the Capital of such country.
I wrote back saying "the toilet" because that is where my throne is and they can visit me on my throne by private audition only.
They ignored my facetious remark and asked what is the population of my country Pantsland.
I replied that currently it was three, my wife, my mother-in-law and I; but the population is likely to rise when my mother-in-law leaves since her bedroom is next door to ours and is not conducive to the business of increasing the nation's population.
They ignored my comments again and threatened to take me to Court if I did not desist from hanging women's underpants and bras from my front window. Presumably they did not mind if I hung my own pants and bras.
Anyway, by this time my mother-in-law had left us to go to her home up North and we got busy increasing Pantsland's population.
Sunday, 19 January 2020
But are we happier?
In fact, let us ask, what is happiness?
Are you happy? On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being mildly happy and 10 being ecstatic with excitement and joy; where are you right now?
Humour me and just right down a number on a piece of paper.
You see, happiness is not a binary YES/NO switch whereby we are happy or not. It is relative to a point in time, and a situation in time.
Right now when you write down your number you may be at ease in your mind and body. No great worries or physical pains. On the other hand, you may be concerned about your job, your financial situation or your health or that of a loved one. These factors will affect your happiness score.
If I asked you for your score tomorrow or the day after your score may well be different.
When we are in a bad place in life, and our happiness scale is sliding down perhaps into the minus figures, what do we do then? Where is our God on Whom we profess we rely?
Personally, I believe He is still there, caring and loving us as He has ever done. The fact that we are in negative figures does not mean that He has turned away or is busy with someone else's problems.
As best we can, through gritted teeth even, we should turn to Him in prayer and ask for His help; and be patient in awaiting His response.
The fact that we are still praying, despite perhaps our diminishing faith, proves that we believe that there is Someone out there somewhere listening to us. Our faith is strengthened in such situations rather than diminished.
So, let me ask you again. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you right now? Is the figure different from the one you wrote earlier? Why?
Saturday, 18 January 2020
And chocolates too
Say it with jewellery
Or a good meal for two
Say it from the heart
Say what you think
But never be careless
And say it with ink
I was tidying up some old papers the other day and I came across this poem which I had written many years ago. I wish I had taken my own advice, because in the same box I also found some love letters which I had penned when I was young and foolish.
Here is one such letter:
My dear darling beautiful Sonia,
I know we have only known each other for five days, twenty hours and 43 minutes, but ever since I laid eyes on you, standing there in your dirty overalls as you left the gas works, I knew you were the one for me. As the dust settled as they demolished the old buildings to make room for the new sewerage farm I saw in you an apparition of splendour as my heart missed a beat or more.
I immediately fell in love with you.
Do you believe in love at first sight, despite the dust and dirt of demolished buildings and people spluttering and coughing to clear their lungs?
Well, that was me my darling. I fell head over heels for you because I missed a step as I walked towards you.
I'll never forget you beside me at the hospital as they bandaged my leg and injected several shots of medicine in my backside.
That was a vision neither of us will ever forget. I had planned to have your name tattooed just where they injected me as a memento of my ever lasting love for you.
Butt now ...
Not that I am complaining my sweet, but it has not escaped my notice that in the last three days you have ignored 43 phone calls from me. I called at your work and all I found there was a wrecking ball tearing into my heart. I called at your home and found that it is a closed down tanning salon. So in desperation I am writing you this letter, yet I do not know where to post it so it reaches you my dear.
Unlike Elvis, it cannot be returned to sender since it has not yet been sent.
I wish I knew why you are avoiding me.
You always said, "the best things in life are free". So is it because I gave you some flowers I picked up from a grave in the cemetery? Is that it? Is that why you left me?
Needless to say, she did not reply because I did not send the letter since I did not know where to send it.
Here's another letter written to another girl-friend:
Dear Darling Murgatroyd,
Why oh why do you keep me waiting so? As agreed, last Friday night I waited for you at the pet cemetery, just by the grave of the Alsatian shepherd as we discussed, and you did not turn up. It was cold and damp, yet I waited for you as the rain soaked me to the skin. Because inside of me my heart was crying and yearning for you. But you did not turn up.
At about half-past-midnight some people dressed in odd looking costumes turned up at the cemetery. I think they were preparing for some ritual of sorts. I hid behind a large tombstone and in my panic I thought I heard your voice. Were you with them my beloved?
Then fear turned to terror as I heard them chanting. I cried a little as tears trickled down my legs. Then as I ran away I fell into an open grave.
I awoke the next morning almost chocking as the grave filled with water from the continuous rain.
I really am truly sorry for running over your beloved cat with my motorcycle. In my defence, it was lying there in the middle of the road and I thought it was already dead. I did offer to have it stuffed by a taxidermist friend I met at college; despite the tread marks from the wheels all over its body. But you refused. By way of reparation, my dear, and so that you may have a pet to remember me by, I enclose in this box a baby rat which another friend of mine captured in the restaurant where he works as cook and waiter. It will also remind you of the times we spent there together sharing lentil soup and other vegetarian delicacies.
Please tell me you love me and I'll be at your feet in no time at all.
Yours now and for eternity.
This letter was returned by Murgatroyd accompanied by a threatening letter from her solicitors telling me that as far as she and they are concerned there is no eternity. If I contacted her again they would take action against me. They also threatened to report me to the Animal Protection people for sending her a rat which, by the time she received the letter and package, was already dead.
Finally, here is another letter I found in my box of souvenirs:
Dear Mr Sorebottom,
Please excuse my bad handwriting since this letter is written left-handed. My right hand being bandaged heavily as a result of my fall from your bedroom window.
I say your bedroom window, although in all truthfulness it is the window to your daughter's bedroom, as you well know when you chased me down the street with a spade in hand, followed by your wife, Mrs Sorebottom, in her negligent and carrying a gardening fork threateningly.
I would like to explain the reason why I was in your daughter's bedroom, having entered and left by the said window ...
This letter continues on another sheet of paper. The first page was returned to me by the Sorebottoms' solicitors also threatening all sorts of bad things if I contacted their daughter ever again. As I recall, at the time I worked for a pizza restaurant specialising in delivering "surprise pizzas" to people at any time and at any place.
Thursday, 16 January 2020
Genuine advice. I'd rather you were honest with me and don't worry about upsetting me.
I have recently been going through some old magnetic tapes of Christian radio programs I used to present years ago. Old tapes deteriorate with time and I have been re-mastering those I could salvage from the ravages of time.
I posted one of these programs in my previous post here. You may have listened to it.
The original programs were half-an-hour long; but I do know that you are all busy and don't have the time to listen to me prattling on about Christianity for such a long time. So I have edited the programs into chunks of 10 to 12 minutes or so.
What I need your advice on is:
1 Is it worth me re-mastering these tapes and posting them here? Is this pure vanity and should I better throw the whole lot in a trash bin?
2 If you think there's something in my tapes worth preserving, is this Blog the best avenue for it? Is there anywhere else you think I should post these segments of old programs?
Please be honest in your comments below. Or if you prefer, you can write to me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org Your e-mails will reach my desk and no one else will read them.
Thank you for your attention. God bless.
Wednesday, 15 January 2020
Tuesday, 14 January 2020
"Hello ... could I speak to Sandra please?"
"Sorry, there is no one called Sandra here!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. I have lived here for some years and there is no Sandra living with me."
"Only ... she gave me this phone number."
"I can assure you there is no Sandra here. I shall move my phone from room to room so you can see I have no Sandra here. Not even in the bedroom!"
"What do you mean the bedroom? Is this not the fishmonger's in Aquatic Avenue?"
"No it is not. But it often smells like it on account that our old dog suffers from flatulence. Last week he embarrassed me when the priest was visiting and his look at me was most accusing I tell you. It was the dog ... not me ..."
"So this is not the shop called A Fish Called Sandra?"
"No it is not ... It is a private house called We Smell Like A Fish Called Sandra!"
"I think she has dumped me. Broke up with me. I got this text saying 'It's over!' That's all it said."
"That's a song by Roy Orbison. Maybe she was wanting to listen to the song on one of those song listening channels and she miss-dialled and sent the message to you instead!"
"Do you think so?"
"Yes sure ... I remember when I was young my girl-friend bought me a record called 'I can get no satisfaction!' by the Rolling Stones."
"What happened then?"
"She left me ..."
The guy at the other end put the phone down. I wonder what happened to him. Was it something I said? Is it because I mentioned my old dog? Maybe he doesn't like dogs. Maybe he is a cat person. What do you think?
Monday, 13 January 2020
"Yes Madam ... how may I help you?"
"Can you direct me to the Left Handed Peoples Society please?"
"Down the corridor. First door on your right!"
"On the right? I would have thought it would be on the left."
"Only if you are coming down the stairs, Madam."
"Down the stairs? This building has only one floor."
"In winter Madam. Only in winter."
"In winter the building has one floor. A lot of things shrink when it's cold. They get smaller. Ask your husband."
"Ah ... yeees ..."
"First door down the right Madam!"
"Hello ... is this the Left Handed Peoples Society?"
"Are you left handed Madam?"
"No ... but I would like to be!"
"Why do you want to be left handed? Life is difficult for left handed people. Everyone thinks we are peculiar."
"Oh dear ... I am sorry to hear it."
"Everything is made for right handed people. Scissors for instance. They cut all right if you are right handed. Try using them if you are left handed. Difficult. Screws and screw drivers. They are made for right handed people. Have you seen a left handed screw driver? Does not exist. Everyone turns the screw clockwise to get it in and anti-clockwise to get it out. You can't do that with a normal screw driver if you are left handed. Computer mice ... made for right handed people. Guitars ... the same. Knives and fork ... the same. They always place them on the table the wrong way round for us left handers. Spoons. The same. Try eating soup if you are left handed. It all ends up in your ear rather than your mouth. Try spooning someone in bed ... sorry ... my mind wandered a little there ... it happens if you are left handed ..."
"Oh my ... I did not know it was that difficult ..."
"It is ... did you know that per capita, as a percentage that is ... there are more left handed people in Britain than any where else in the world ... they are peculiar that way ... well ... they are peculiar generally in Britain. Not like us."
"Yes Madam. That is why they drive on the left hand side of the road. Peculiar. And when they reach a round-about on the road they go round it clockwise. When they start marching it is always left foot first. The same when dancing ... You know ... Put your left foot in ... Your left foot out ... Your left foot in ... And shake it all about. I'm not sure what it is they are shaking all about, but I bet they shake it to the left. Peculiar those Brits."
"It certainly is. So I would not recommend you become left handed Madam. Not unless you intend to move to Britain!"
"Will I have to wear a pinned-striped suit, and a bowler hat and carry an umbrella?"
"Most certainly Madam. Also you must wear a tie with your pyjamas in bed! Very formal, those Brits."
"But I don't wear pyjamas in bed ..."
"Too much information!"
NOTE: Over to you readers. Do you wear a tie in bed? I do.
DISCLAIMER: No left-handed people have been harmed in the writing of this article. As authenticated by the Left Handed Peoples Society. An organisation limited by guarantee from all liabilities by the Ambidextrous Anonymous Association. Any similarities between characters or situations in this article and people alive or dead are purely coincidental and do not refer to anyone in particular whether left or right handed or ambidextrous. The writers would like to stress that buildings do not in fact shrink in winter, unlike other things and materials, and that readers should not try this at home for personal safety reason. For example, do NOT attempt to go upstairs if you live in a one-level building, or for that matter, do NOT attempt to go downstairs if you live in a similar one-level building. No liability will be admitted or accepted for injuries sustained in such eventualities, or any other eventualities, by the writers of this article. Readers who are susceptible to be easily influenced, or with a tendency to try things out for themselves, should not read this article in the first place. Similarly, readers with a nervous disposition, or lacking in humour, should not read this article either. The writers sympathise with left-handed people and treat them in similar treatment as right-handed people or indeed ambidextrous ones. The writers stress that they are totally devoid of any prejudice whatsoever since they dislike everyone equally. This article has been written for entertainment and amusement only and should not be taken seriously, or with water, or any other hot, cold, or variable temperature liquids in order to avoid accidents and potential injuries. If you have been affected in any way by reading this article then seek help from a professional rather than seek compensation from the writers. Take responsibility for your actions rather than blame your behaviour on someone else. No one in his right sense, or left sense for that matter, would attempt to go up, or down, in a one-level building and then blame someone else for injuries incurred. It is similarly stressed that the wearing of ties, or any other article of clothing, or indeed no article of clothing at all, in bed is purely optional and the writers do not recommend, or advise, nor indeed encourage any particular choice the individual would wish to make. Whether you are left or right handed, or indeed ambidextrous, then good luck to you. The same applies regardless of what you wear or do not wear in bed at night, or at any other time of the day. Live life as happily as you can. Take care. Look after each other. Be kind to everyone, and GO AWAY!